Boeing decided on Tuesday that it would shoulder the risk of keeping the C-17 supply chain going for the additional 10 aircraft, which it hopes will be approved in October, at the end of the latest U.S. Government budget process.
Speaking in the aircraft in the static display at the show, Dave Bowman, C-17 program manager, said: “Boeing has decided at its own risk to start work it needs to do on 10 new C-17s with the hope they will be funded in the budget cycle.” The order would be valued at $2.4 billion.
He added that the proposed commercial BC-17 has attracted considerable interest but that any commercial orders would not be enough on their own to justify keeping the line going, as they are too few and there would be a lead time of up to three years to prepare (for modifications and civil certification). “We have been looking at the commercial version for a decade and now have real customers and some RFPs [requests for proposals]… but we need a sustainable build rate and BC-17 alone can’t do that. We need the Air Force.”
The Air Force, according to Bowman, has said that it is “interested in at least 30 more aircraft and hopes to retire the older Lockheed C-5s that it does not want to upgrade.” In addition, the Australian military is talking about acquiring more aircraft and Boeing hopes that NATO will order “at least three aircraft or possibly more.”
While Boeing has just delivered aircraft 166 of a hoped-for total of 190 to the Air Force, it has also started to assemble the fifth aircraft for the UK’s Royal Air Force at its manufacturing plant in Long Beach, California–the aircraft is due to be delivered in February 2008. The first aircraft for Canada will be delivered on August 9.